Mar 022012

Federal officials warned owners of Valley farmland Thursday that if they lease land to someone growing marijuana, they could lose their property or face jail time.

Sacramento-based U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner came to the Fresno County Farm Bureau to detail his office’s stepped-up prosecution of large-scale pot farms. He met with about 65 people representing Valley sheriff’s offices, federal drug agents and the agriculture community, Robert Rodriguez reports in the Fresno Bee.

“We want to send a message to land owners that they have to know what is going on on their property,” said Wagner, who is the region’s top federal prosecutor.

In the last 18 months, the U.S. Attorney’s office has filed cases against 35 people growing marijuana on agricultural land in Fresno, Madera and Stanislaus counties. Most of those cases have been in Fresno County, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Wagner highlighted one recent case involving the seizure of about 50 acres in eastern Fresno County.

“That property owner will pay a steep price for allowing that kind of activity to occur on that property,” Wagner said.

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